With six months to go before the Oct. 21 federal election, the fate of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national carbon tax is in the hands of voters rather than the courts.
In that context, Trudeau’s self-inflicted Lavscam scandal may be the real reason he loses his fight to impose his national carbon tax on the four Canadian provinces which oppose it.
That includes Ontario, where Premier Doug Ford’s government launched a legal challenge of Trudeau’s carbon tax law on Monday, and Saskatchewan, which launched its legal challenge in February.
Manitoba and New Brunswick also plan to challenge Trudeau’s carbon tax in court, while Alberta could soon join the fight, if United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney defeats NDP Premier Rachel Notley in Tuesday’s provincial election.
Many legal experts believe Trudeau will win the court cases in which provinces are challenging the constitutionality of his carbon tax law.
But that’s less significant than what happens in the federal election, given that Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has vowed to scrap Trudeau’s carbon tax if he wins.
Until recently, polls showed Trudeau poised to win a second Liberal majority government.
But that’s now in doubt, with many polls showing the Conservatives ahead due to Trudeau’s Lavscam scandal, although he still has six months to turn things around.
Ford also has a strong political argument to make against Trudeau’s carbon tax.
That’s because in the 2018 Ontario election, Ford ran on challenging it in the courts, as well as on scrapping former Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne’s cap-and-trade scheme, basically a $2 billion-a-year carbon tax by another name.
Since winning the election on June 7, 2018, Ford has done what he said he would do on both counts.
Wynne, by contrast, never mentioned imposing any form of carbon pricing on Ontarians during the 2014 election which brought her to power and Trudeau, while he campaigned on setting a national carbon price in the 2015 federal election he won, was vague about what that would mean.
Ontario Environment Minister Rod Phillips argues Trudeau is being unfair to Ontario by demanding it reduce its emissions more than other provinces.
Ontario has cut its emissions to 22% below 2005 levels, Phillips says, compared to a 3% increase in the rest of Canada.
But this came at a high cost to Ontarians since to do so, the Wynne government eliminated the use of cheaper, coal-fired electricity in the province, adding $400 annually to the average hydro bill.
Phillips also said Ontario will achieve Trudeau’s national target of a 30% cut in emissions compared to 2005 levels by 2030 through Ford’s new environmental plan, without a carbon tax.
But Trudeau and federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna rejected Ford’s plan, imposing Trudeau’s carbon tax on April 1 instead.
They argue Wynne’s Liberal government achieved the emission cuts Ford is claiming credit for and that her government also had a far more stringent reduction target of cutting emissions to 37% below Ontario’s 1990 levels by 2030.
Now, they argue, the rest of the country has to make up the emission reductions Ford removed by scrapping Wynne’s plan.
Ford and Trudeau have accused each other of “moving the goal posts” on Ontario’s climate change plan.
On Oct. 21, Ontarians, along with voters across Canada, will decide whether Trudeau gets to move ahead with his national carbon pricing plan, or goes down to defeat and thus loses the power to do so.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019